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Thick as Thieves (2009) November 2, 2009

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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(THE CODE)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009

Feature films fail when they incite emotional responses different from those intended. Sometimes this shouldn’t be a bad thing – serious film, if it is bad enough, can provide audience with unexpected entertainment. More often than not, though, films that are supposed to be entertaining are anything but. THICK AS THIEVES, 2009 crime thriller directed by Mimi Leder and distributed under title THE CODE in USA, is one of such examples.

Protagonist of the film is Gabriel Martin (played by Antonio Banderas), criminal from Miami who tries to make a living on the streets of New York. His dashing robbery in the moving subway train catches attention of Keith Ripley (played by Morgan Freeman), old, experienced criminal who needs a younger partner for another big job. That job includes stealing precious Faberge eggs from a New York museum owned by Russian “businessmen”. Their scheme is complicated by two things. One is Ripley’s old nemesis in the form of NYPD lieutenant Weber (played by Robert Forster) who is determined to bring behind bars. Another is Alexandra (played by Radha Mitchell), Ripley’s goddaughter to whom Martin becomes attracted.

Based on Mimi Leder’s reputation of an action-oriented director, THICK AS THIEVES was supposed to be exciting heist film. In reality, audience will hardly experience any thrills, except in the subway scene which introduces outrageously bold protagonist. The scenes depicting heist, despite great care to make them look “spectacular” (mostly through the use of various gadgets), leave much to be desired and actually draw comparisons with much better films of the same genre.

Much more visible (and irritating) flaw of the film is bad casting. The otherwise dependable actors like Morgan Freeman sleepwalk through the role, while Banderas simply looks too old to be convincing as young criminal. His character’s obligatory romance with Alexandra falls victim to complete lack of chemistry between him and Mitchell. Furthermore, Banderas’ efforts are also burdened by Ted Humphrey’s uninspired script which brings plenty of “unexpected” yet completely nonsensical plot twists at the end. Seeing great Spanish actor in his unsuccessful attempts to act his way out of this mess gives more sadness than thrills among the audiences.

People in this part of the world will have additional reason to feel sad when they see this film. Rade Šerbedžija, once among the most popular and charismatic actors of former Yugoslavia, is again reduced to one-dimensional and stereotypical role of a Russian mobster. The sadness created by this film could be cured only by its quick descent in well-deserved oblivion.

RATING: 3/10

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